Martin Sheen as President Bartlet, collapses © NBC Photo: Chris Haston
- Written by Aaron Sorkin, Directed by Arlene Sanford
- Takes Place: Mid-January 2000 (Around the presentation of State of the Union Address which is usually around January 20th)
- Broadcast: January 12, 2000
- Members of the senior staff notice that the President, who is rehearsing his State of the Union address, looks a little feverish:
- "I'm saying we're 44 hours away from the State of the Union and he doesn't look so good."
- And then the speech seems to have a few typos:
- "We meant 'stronger' here, right?"
"What's it say?"
"'I'm proud to report that our country is stranger than it was a year ago.'"
"That's a typo."
"It could go either way."
- And of course there are other problems on the horizon. This is the day the story about Leo's treatment for drug and alcohol problems will come to light. So, Josh tells Donna:
- "Be sweet to Margaret and Leo today. This may not be the worst day of their lives but it's got to be in the top five."
- The staff rallies behind Leo, but that isn't what he wants:
- "Your job isn't to protect me, Sam. It's to protect the President. . . . Do me a favor, Sam, and don't show initiative. Don't rush to my defense. I don't want to see you on 'Crossfire'. I don't want to see you on 'Larry King'. I don't want to read your name in Newsweek unless it's in advocacy of the President's agenda. I go down, I go down. I'm not taking anyone with me. Is that clear?"
- Sam and Josh, however, go ahead with their attempts to protect Leo:
- "Leo's going to kill us."
"I don't care, do you?"
- And Leo, who figures they will ignore his order, has them followed so that he can keep track of what they do. When he asks them about it, each takes responsibility:
- "What? You're giving me Abbott and Costello?"
- Then, the President collapses and Leo realizes that something is wrong. Leo asks the First Lady, who is a medical doctor, why she rushed back from a trip when she learned the President had the flu:
- "What should I know that I don't know. . . . This is me. This has happened before. . . . I see you prescribing medication. " She finally admits there is a grave problem.
"Multiple Sclerosis..... A fever could be life threatening."
- Later Leo talks to the President who explains:
- "Normal life expectency. Recover fully after an attack. Fever and stress are two things tend to bring on an attack.
"Well, you're President of the United States. You're delivering a State of the Union address tomorrow night. India and Pakistan are pointing nuclear weapons at each other. And you have a 102° fever. So, I guess we're out of the woods. . . .
Jed, all the things you could have kept from me. . . ."
"You haven't called me Jed since I was elected."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Cause I wanted to be the president."
"It wouldn't have stopped me from getting you here. And I could have been a friend."
"You've been a friend."
"But when it was time to really...."
"When I was lying on my face in the motel parking lot you were the one I called."
"When you stood up there today I was so proud. I wanted to be with you. I tried to get up and I fell back down again."
"I know the feeling."
- Toby is still trying to hammer out the State of the Union address. Their polling shows the American people think that the "Era of big government is past." Toby doesn't agree:
- "Government can be a place where people come together and no one gets left behind." The President and Josh come to agree with Toby.
- One cabinet secretary has to stay away from the Capitol in case the building and all major government officials are blown away at one time. The Secretary of Agriculture is picked. The President has him come to the White House and as he leaves, he tells him:
- "If anything happens. . . . You got a best friend?"
"Is he smarter than you?"
"Would you trust him with your life?"
"That's your chief of staff."
- Leo, who has come back to his own office, next door, to pick up his coat, hears this.
- Theme of Episode: The Friendship between the President and Leo
For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.